No. 9 Florida Tech Men’s Lacrosse Hosts No. 5 St. Leo Saturday for Regular Season Conference Title
By Daniel Supraner, Florida Tech Sports // April 20, 2018
Panthers have won 8 straight games, 5-1 at home
ABOVE VIDEO: The No. 9-ranked Florida Tech men’s lacrosse team (9-4, 6-0 SSC) is set to play the most important game in program history this Saturday, Apr. 21, as the Panthers will host No. 5 Saint Leo (12-1, 6-0 SSC) with the Sunshine State Conference regular season championship on the line. Space Coast Daily’s Alan Z stopped by campus to talk to some of the players.
BREVARD COUNTY • MELBOURNE, FLORIDA – The No. 9-ranked Florida Tech men’s lacrosse team (9-4, 6-0 SSC) is set to play the most important game in program history this Saturday, Apr. 21, as the Panthers will host No. 5 Saint Leo (12-1, 6-0 SSC) with the Sunshine State Conference regular season championship on the line.
Opening faceoff is set for 12 p.m. at Panther Field.
Saturday’s contest would not have seemed to have such high stakes earlier this season. Rewind to Mar. 4 and the Panthers were reeling off a 15-7 road loss to Catawba and was 1-4 in their first five games.
After that loss in Salisbury, North Carolina, something clicked for the Crimson & Gray. Over the next three games, the Panthers blew out Mars Hill, 17-7, and then proceeded to take down national powers No. 5 Tampa and No. 10 Mount Olive in consecutive one-goal victories.
Fast forward to today and FIT has won a school-record eight straight games and became the first SSC men’s lacrosse team to go 6-0 in conference play. The Panthers can cap off the impressive run in perfect fashion Saturday by taking down Saint Leo to win the program’s first-ever SSC regular season crown.
With a victory, the Panthers will also earn the right to host this year’s conference tournament for the first time.
This weekend’s matchup will be the seventh all-time meeting between the Panthers and Lions. Florida Tech and Saint Leo have each won three games in the series with the visiting team boasting a 4-2 record.
SLU won last year’s game, 13-8, at home while the Panthers won the previous two meetings, both by the score of 13-11. This will be the first Top-10 matchup in the series.
Florida Tech is 8-2 over the past two seasons when playing its home games at Panther Field, housed within the F.W. Olin Sports Complex on FIT’s campus.
The Panthers’ offense has been dominant on the turf as well, outscoring opponents 156-87 over the 10 games.
FIT will need to have its offense rolling on Saturday as it hosts a Saint Leo squad that leads the conference in both scoring offense (15.23) and scoring defense (9.00) and has three of the top four players in total points in the league.
Jake Gilmour paces the SSC with 60 points on 26 goals and 34 assists, while Kyle Pauwels and Charlie Kurtenbach each have 57 points this season.
The Lions also have one of the better goalies in the nation in Thomas Tatarian, who boasts a saves percentage of .601 and leads the conference with 173 saves.
Florida Tech will be up to the task, though, as the Panthers are second in the league in goals allowed (9.301), while averaging 12.46 goals per game. For FIT on offense, it is less about the individuals and more about the team.
Led by Carson Clough’s 34 points, on 22 goals and 12 assists, there are five Panthers with at least 24 points this season, and eight with more than 10 points. Tajee Mobley is the top goal scorer with a career-high 28 in 2018.
FIT boasts its own top goalkeeper in Daniel Flock. The junior has played in every game this season and has a saves percentage of .550 with 148 saves, the second most in the league. The Lions must also prepare for Addison Abramson. The Long stick midfielder leads the SSC with 34 caused turnovers and is the top scoring long-pole in the conference with 11 points on six goals and five assists.
Saturday’s game is Florida Tech’s Senior Day Game. Fans are encouraged to come out early to the field and help FIT honor seven Panthers who have helped build the program into what it is today. This year’s senior class includes Nick Bailey, Carson Clough, Connor Dubois, Nathan Howard, Tajee Mobley, Lance Pavlina and Matt Young.
All local youth lacrosse players are encouraged to come out and cheer on the Panthers this Saturday for Youth Lacrosse Day at Panther Field. As part of the promotion, any youth player who attends the contest wearing their team’s uniform will be given free admission to the game.
Anyone not able to attend Saturday’s game can access links to live coverage at FloridaTechSports.com, or on the Florida Tech Sports Network, at FloridaTechSports.com/live.
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